Extra Red Cross bushfire funds for safe housing on Kangaroo Island

Donated caravans at the BlazeAid camp at Parndana on Kangaroo Island.
Donated caravans at the BlazeAid camp at Parndana on Kangaroo Island.

Red Cross has expanded grants to people who lost homes in the 2019/20 bushfires to give extra support to those in temporary accommodation and caravans.

This includes on Kangaroo Island where more than 80 homes were lost in the fires.

Australian Red Cross meanwhile has launched a new phone service with an aim of connecting people during isolation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID CONNECT focusses on reducing feelings of loneliness and social isolation through a friendly chat with a trained Red Cross volunteer.

People can register for COVID CONNECT by visiting www.redcross.org.au or by calling 1800 733 276 during business hours.

Red Cross Australian Programs director Noel Clement said the current rebuild grant will be expanded and renamed a re-establishment grant, to reflect new evidence that many people need more flexibility, some are simply not ready to rebuild and need extra support settling into somewhere safe for winter. Our grants help people make the choices that are right for them.

"Extra Support will be provided to people who were renting or living in caravans and mobile homes so they can find a secure place to live, and extra funds are being released to further help for people who want to rebuild their homes," he said.

"It provides much greater flexibility for people to meet their housing needs, whether they are ready to re-build or not. We know that many people still need to sort out medium-to-long-term living arrangements and are in need of financial support to find a safe place to live. The COVID-19 pandemic has added extra financial pressures to people who lost homes in the fires. The re-establishment grant is available for home owner occupiers or people who were renting homes destroyed in the fires, and for people whose destroyed home was a caravan or a mobile home."

A new total of $79 million has been allocated for these grants with an additional $9 million, and these funds are available now. More than 4000 people have so far received around $80m in assistance, with millions more being spent each week at a support cost so far of less than 4 cents in each dollar donated.

The re-establishment grant is for people whose primary place of residence was destroyed by a bushfire from July 2019 and includes:

  • A $30,000 payment for home owner occupiers who lost their primary place of residence (increased from $20,000 that was available under the re-build grant. The further $10,000 will also be provided to anyone who has already received the grant)
  • A new $10,000 payment for people who were tenants or living in a non-permanent structure (eg a caravan) whose primary place of residence was destroyed.

"We've already provided around 1,000 people with the $20,000 rebuild grant but we've seen that many others are not wanting to rebuild, or ready to rebuild yet," Mr Clement said. "Whatever their choice, this grant will help those who lost their home to have somewhere safe to live.

"A $10,000 grant provides extra support to people who were renting or living in caravans before the fires. Both renters and home owners were already eligible for our initial $20,000 emergency grant; the re-establishment grant provides them new funds to support whatever their living or re-building arrangements are.

"We urge people who lost their homes to come forward and seek this assistance. We know recovery is a long term process, and we've committed to staying with bushfire-hit communities for as long as it takes. We want to give people flexibility to use these additional grants as best suits them. We will continue to expand support as needs become clearer," Mr Clement said.

For more information on grants available: redcross.org.au/grants

Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund in numbers

Total amount donated - $216 million

Total allocations

  • Emergency Response team - $5 million
  • Immediate assistance - $81 million
  • Re-establishment grants - $79 million
  • Three-year recovery program - $18 million
  • Future unmet needs - $33 million

Total amount spent

  • Response and immediate payments - $65.37 million
  • Medium to long-term payments - $20.34 million (since launched on 31 March)

The funds will all be spent on bushfire response and recovery, and Red Cross will continue its support in communities for at least three years.

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